Of course we camp with cloth diapers! We trust cloth diapers, and we understand how to make them work for us.
There are two kinds of cloth diaper camping trips (or any cloth diaper vacations): short trips when you bring the diapers back home to wash and longer trips when you wash on the road.
Cloth diapers for short camping trips
If you are planning to wash your diapers back home, pack diapers as you would for a day trip only pack more. If you will be away for more than two days, consider washing diapers while you are gone. Dirty diapers that sit longer than a couple of days will smell bad and be much hard to make clean and fresh when you return.
Cloth diapers. Multiple the number of changes in an ordinary day by the number of days you will be gone (no more than three), then add a couple. For example, for a 48-hour, two-night camping trip for a baby who goes through 8 diapers a day, pack 18 diapers (( 2 x 8 ) + 2 ). Use the diapers you would normally use, and don’t forget the covers and wipes. Pack your diapers in a wet bag to keep them from getting dewy and damp.
Wet bag. Next to the cloth diapers, the diaper wet bag is the most important part of your camping cloth diaper system. Make sure the bag does not leak. You know why this is important. That’s two bags: one for clean and one for dirty.
Essential oil. My choice: tea tree. Others may prefer lavender or other oils. Tea tree oil has antibacterial and antiseptic properties, and I like the pleasant aroma.
During the trip, dump the poop where you would dump your own. Squeeze wet diapers, so you carry around as little urine in your wet bag as possible. Doing this will also minimize the smell.
There you go! For a short trip, you take care of the cloth diapers by putting them off for a couple of days. For a longer trip, you will need more preparation.
Cloth diapers for long camping trips
If you will be camping for more than 2 days, you will probably want to wash your cloth diapers on the trail. It wouldn’t take you more than three days of hauling around a heavy bag of urine-soaked diapers to figure out why.
The packing list starts out the same, then includes a few washing essentials.
Cloth diapers. Because you will be washing and drying without the help of highly efficient machines, you may want to choose the simplest diapers you have. My preference is flat or prefold diapers because they are the easiest to clean and the quickest to dry. Though I prefer wool diaper covers in most situations, I would probably choose something less breathable for a child who is going to be sitting heavily in a baby carrier for hours a day. A cover like Bummis Super Whisper Wrap will work nicely then wash easily. Don’t forget the cloth wipes.
Wet bag. Pack two.
Tea tree oil.
Laundry liquid. Be sure to choose a detergent that won’t leave residue on your diapers or in the water. You might even want to choose a simple soap you would use for your own shower. When you wash, scrub the diaper against itself with a little soap, agitate if you have a container to do this, and rinse very well. Do not dump your dirty water into anyone’s water supply. Dump the water out on the ground well away from standing water to avoid contamination.
Clothesline and clothespins. Or not. I tend to drape my clothes over whatever bag, chair, or rope is nearby. If you might be in a hurry, pack a rope. Cloth diapers waving in a breeze will dry much more quickly than those draped over a plastic tent. If you don’t dry your diapers thoroughly, they can get musty smelling and even mildewy. Sun dry your diapers, then roll them gently between your hands to soften.
Even for long trips, the system isn’t much more complicated than for day trips. If you plan ahead, you shouldn’t need to think about diapers any more than you would every day. Just go about the daily task, and enjoy your trip.